The creation of Exile on Main St., an album that The Stones released in 1972, proved to be yet another fork in the road – but once again a situation that the band expertly dealt with. By listening to the record alone, you’d never guess that the band were going through a period of disarray, and the material still stands up against anything else from their back catalogue.
Exile is a long and winding 18-track-journey that, admittedly, is significantly light on hit singles. However, when the Stones come together as one collective piece, something glorious occurs. The record was made during a precarious time when each member of the group were living as UK tax-exiles. As a result, they recorded sections of the LP in different – but always luxurious – locations across the world, including at Richards’ rented French property, Villa Nellcôte.
It took almost three years to create Exile, and nothing about the process was straightforward. While he was content with the final product, it was a journey that Jagger didn’t wish to replicate ever again.
Thankfully all the work that The Rolling Stones poured into Exile paid off magnificently, and their buckets of sweat were nothing compared with the reward of the final result. It was an experimental period that could have gone disastrously, but now it looks like perhaps their finest stroke of genius.